NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The state School Building Authority has determined it would only fund one new school project for the city, ending nearly a year of controversy.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said Friday that he had been informed of the decision - described as tentative - late Wednesday by project engineer Carl Weber.
The city had hoped for approval to build or renovate two elementary schools to accommodate 620 students. The building project was prompted by the closure of Conte Middle School and the realignment of the academic structure to kindergarten-Grade 7 and Grades 8-12.
In a statement, Superintendent James Montepare said the deicision was "not a total surprise." The city and its architects had hoped for two projects based on initial responses by the MSBA but the outcome was never guaranteed.
Because the city's initial proposals were based on 620 children, the mayor said he had asked for clarification from the MSBA on its decision. "They aren't discounting anything," he said, so the city could, if it wished, put forward a proposal accommodating fewer students. "They're basically saying one project and what we need to do is decide which one project."
The protests had the School Building Authority taking a second look at the plans. The MSBA sent representatives to review all three sites in December but has not released its results yet to the city to aid in planning. Alcombright said the city will be able to move forward once the MSBA gives it "clarification" on site and building feasibility.
"What it really does is leave all three sites on the table," said Alcombright, referring to Conte, Sullivan and Greylocks schools. "It does allow us one school project and the School Building Committee will get together to affirm or reaffirm one direction."
Greylock School had been considered the optimal project, receiving support from parents, faculty and officials. The location offers space to build a new school while keeping students in the old one, cutting down costs and easing transition. The site is also level and easily accessed. (More informations on the options and costs can be found here.)
A proposal to build a "megaschool" on the same site to accommodate 620 children was shuffled to the bottom; the mayor described the proposal a not "palatable" to the committee.
A single school, smaller school would also be less costly in that the payments for it would kick in at just about the time the debt for the renovations at Drury High School and Brayton Elementary will fall off the books.
The mayor, who also is chairman of the School Committee, said meetings for the School Building Committee will be scheduled on Feb. 16 and 29, with the time and place to be determined.
"I'm thinking we'll be going back to the MSBA in March," he said. The city has been given an extension until October to get the project approved.
Updated 4:52 p.m. and rewritten throughout with added quotes.
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Good, dont be so sure. Dick still will not want to pay for the new school in the budget, so he would have to reduce people's dependency. He will try for an exclusion. Plus he has already started talking about the deficit and will try for another override that way. Remember he believes he can spend your money better than you.
Also remember he said fees would not increse again "this year". He will now claim fiscal year, not calendar year. Fiscal year ends in June.
The mayor said we could afford one new school without an override . He did not lie did he ???: The state was trying to tell him what over 1800 voters tried to , he is spending to much money. He will not listen to the state on health insurance but he will will on the schools. Thank goodness that someone else can see through him.
It's going to take more than a couple of years to fix the financial mess and infrastructure negligence left behind by JB3. In all of his 26 years in office he brought in a very limited number of jobs...the gradual growth and evolution of MCLA (NA State)and the continued development of Mass MoCA have brought some increases in local businesses, entrepreneurship, and local jobs but there was still no new major employer and that growth/evolution occurred under the guidance and leadership of the Mary Grants and Joe Thompsons in spite of the JB3s of the world. Businesses that moved here did so despite the fact that we had no one trying to woo them here.
With much-needed changes and updates to our city's infrastructure we will set the stage for a future where companies will want to relocate here. Say all you want about the override and "poor money management" on the part of our current mayor but in the short 2 years Alcombright has been in office we've seen numerous new small businesses open or expand (yes...corporately owned ones have gone away...good riddance). New changes/expansion to the farmer's market, the Windsor Lake campground, "pocket" parks, community involvement/meetings re: the historical committee, continued drive behind finding a programming solution for the Mohawk Theater PRIOR to finishing the renovations, a more OPEN government (regardless of what a few nut jobs may say)--including posting of documents, policies, etc... on the North Adams govt. website, are all just the beginning of a sea of change in North Adams.
We have much more to do...including what now appears to be figuring out re-use for several churches and an old school building in downtown. We need to work quickly to avoid having a CVS or other corporation buy and tear down a building like St. Francis so they can put a gnarly, poorly constructed box store in its place. We need to put many minds together to create a vision that will not only enhance the economic growth of North Adams but also its aesthetic appeal. Part of that is putting heads together to either FIND the funds to do the work or CONVINCE those with money that North Adams is a worthy investment.
If we bring more privately owned businesses or successful non-profits to the city we'll see city coffers swell and not on the backs of homeowners. That should be the goal of every resident of North Adams.
You are forgetting the DOJ report on ADA compliance which may require a new public safety facility--even if the City will have 3 years to get it started----that will require a debt exclusion override----I think a debt exclusion for a new school builidng would fare better than the budget override which got focused on the teachers---same for a public safety facility---but I don;t think you could get 2 debt exclusions --in a 2-3 year period
NARez...good comments, especially about dealing with the Conte Middle School, and St. Francis Church.....I wonder if Mayoral candidate Ron Boucher and "his people" ( as he called them during his failed campaign), have given the Mayor the name of the "developer" that Boucher was alledgedly speaking to, regarding the development of the East end of Main Street.
Now lets see how the Mayor is going to do this one, after he told us he could do one school and not raise taxes but with the budget. Mr. Mayor if you would have addressed the state report on THIRTY (30) Recommendations you would have had the money to do a school, however you didn't so what are you going to do now?
Eventually Sullivan School will go the same route as other neighborhood schools, it will be closed due to the poor location, no expansion available. Consolidation is, unfortunately, more cost effective. Those of us that have been in North Adams long enough remember the unfortunate closures of other neighborhood schools: Houghton School, Freeman School, Johnson School, Notre Dame and St. Josephs Schools. We miss them all but it is the sign of the times, lack of students and lack of funds to keep them open.
The school building committee must do what is best for the city as a whole, not just a few.
To Fact: You think 2 years is enough time to pass the buck after someone like Barrett was in office for 26 years??? Honestly, we're going to feel the repercussions of his lack of vision, lack of community integration and lack of planning for generations. The current administration and active community members (who for the first time in 28 years are able to offer volunteer services to a mayor happy and willing to accept them) are just getting started with trying to repair the damage done by a lack of planning and vision. We had 26 years of a closed, secretive city government and now we've shifted to one that is extremely open and collaborative. Real fixes will take much more than anything any mayor could bring to the table. Residential real estate taxes are not the only place to find money to support growth. We need to strengthen our efforts to draw new businesses (not big box stores) to North Adams...that should be our main goal as a community for the next two years.
To Fact: We make Dick Alcombright accountable every two years and after 26 years of bullying we finally held Barrett accountable. There's your number.
Btw--The need/decision to build a new school or renovate is not just a sign of the times and it's not something any mayor could avoid. Hopefully today they're building schools to be more efficient and to require less maintenance than the schools of the past. Although the old schools are often beautiful examples of an architecture gone-by, they cost a significant amount of money to maintain in energy, repair and renovation costs. They also are not ideal for today's learning/teaching methods which rely heavily on technology (or at least should).
We need a new/retrofitted school no matter how you slice it...this wasn't something caused by any mayor past or present (although whoever made the decision to build a school on the side of a hill without room for possible expansion wasn't planning ahead that's for sure). It may be painful to us all when it comes to the cost of getting the job done, but if North Adams and our children are to succeed we must provide the best education humanly possible. And, in case you're wondering, no...I do not sit on some trust fund or mattress full of cash...the increased taxes are a sting I feel all too strongly, but at least I know that my money is no longer going to pay for an automobile and a tank of gas for my city's mayor.
NARez You are just another that probley lives of the taxpayers . Please stop whining about J.B. If you stop and think about it . The man got over two thousand votes without even campaigning . So who knows perhaps with little effort he could have easily been mayor. Lets not forget only 4 out of 10 came out to vote.
NARez you are dodging the question as usual. And you can't hide the fact you are dodging it in the essays you like to write
How many years have to go by before you stop blaming JB3 and place everything on the shoulders of Dick. Because you sound like a broken record everytime there is an election or dick tries to pick my pocket. How many years. Its a 2 word answer. A number and the word years. Come on let's go.
Don't say the state is limiting the city on how much they spend. The state approved funding for a 300 or 600 student size school. A 600 size school would cost the same as two 300 size schools. The local school board doesn't want that big of a school. The state board won't approve two smaller schools. Not becuase of the money, but becuase they see it as two schools and only give the communities one new school at a time. .
It has been made very clear by the present Government and �appointed� committees of this city that the children�s safety and welfare are not their first priority. They are so driven by the proposition of filling an empty building downtown that they lost their perspective between right and wrong. This is surely because not one of them will have five and 10 year olds walking downtown to school if they do buffalo the MSBA into putting money into that shot building. The people of North Adams were told that the old Drury building was beyond repair and not salvageable when it was being used as a school and the children had to be moved out for their safety.
When MCLA and private developers declined to take the old Drury building from the city of North Adams because it was beyond repair, the administration got desperate and putting the children in there to get the free money from the MSBA to resurrect the old Drury building was their last resort. If they really thought that putting little children downtown for school was such a good idea then why did they exhaust every other means to dispose of it before they chose putting the little kids in there?
If they do get the MSBA to foot the bill for rehabilitating the old Drury building it will be interesting to see what the real agenda for the Sullivan property is. Transparency? Please.
Editor: The building was never beyond repair; it does need serious renovation to meet current academic needs. MCLA had, and has, no use for it. I hardly doubt the MSBA can be buffaloed into anything. They make the determination, not the city.
The mayor would have an easyer time passing a 7 LB. watermelon than a debt exclusion or an override for anything . Time to stop spending and giving away money. We are the smallest city in Ma. and the ninth poorest . It is time to live within our means and not try to spend taxpayer assets. Read the Financial Management Report and listen to what our Governor said in his last report. Less spending and smaller goverment. Neither the report or the Governor said tax to the max or spend and giveaway taxpayer assets.
@Power Corrupts - Your argument is silly. Little kids WALKED to school downtown (not bused like they are today) for most of the 20th century. Evidently all the parents who sent their kids to Notre Dame were negligent and corrupted by power.
The paranoia of some folks seems to be either intentional ignorance, or something more pathological.
I'm sure you stay away from the library, too.
Downtown is not unsafe. There are more young kids living closer to Conte than there are near Sullivan.
Seems that people in NA need to pay more attention and not hear just what they want too.
First, the MSBA historically has never approved more than one school building project at a time, so this is no surprise.
Second, Alcombright has said that by the time any school building goes out to bond, the debt for Brayton and Drury will be off the books and the city should be able to absorb the cost of a new school without having to go to a debt exclusion override.
Also, the state came out in October to look at Conte because they like the idea of rehabilitating a historic building.
And last, Conte could not be given to MCLA or private developers. The city still hasn't sought a ruling on whether or not a clause in the original deed is still valid. If it is, they have to find the heirs of Nathaniel Drury, who the land and building would revert back to should it stop being used as an education facility.
This is primarily addressed to this NArez poster who I could go off on for hours but shall keep my comments brief. In a nutshell you need to stop and remove the rosy colored glasses. You and your kind think, and I stress the word think, that you know what is best for North Adams to move forward. You think you have elected the right person to lead the charge unfortunately it has become more evident every day that is not the case. I can tell you first hand that this City has more dirty deeds going on now than ever occurred during the past administration. Lies, political favors like you can not believe and the implementing of a self-serving agenda are just the beginning. Dare I even mention the complete lack of follow through by any committee or group that has recently come out of the new administration. Encourage private developers to come here? Why, what are the lures??? Some mulch and queer chairs? Lunatics (much like yourself) who rant that our new mayor is the greatest thing since sliced bread while we were a depressed and stagnant economy all during the 90�s and 00�s? When our past mayor was in office there was good with the bad. There now is only bad. And another thing � MCLA and MoCA are NOT going to be the savior of downtown North Adams so the City better look elsewhere and let those two institutions continue to improve upon their own properties. No, as saddened as I am (and also quite infuriated) I only see weakness in every aspect of City government these days. So go on � blame the recent sharp decline on our past mayor (who no doubt could be an SOB but really made this a much better place to live from what it was) and as things continue to decline and idiocy is perpetually spewed from his administration you can maintain your same stance and justify the rapid decline of North Adams.
Fact, NARez is not who you think it is. I can assure you of that. I do read these threads, but I rarely comment on them anymore due to the tone.
I agree that a town is often defined by the quality of its schools. That is no secret. But it is clear that a voting majority is satisfied with the status quo. That's too bad. The city will continue to shrink because of it.
Safety is an issue with the traffic, and the walkers and drop offs having to navigate through the buses to get into the school but it's more about the lack of outdoor green space and the " Less Than Ideal Layout For Twenty First Century Learning" to Quote Margo Jones(North Adams hired consultant). With the city getting only one project, judging by who is on the school building committee Greylock will get another new school. This issue should be about the kids, not what to do with an empty eyesore downtown
The schools arent perfect but they are not that bad either. I would love to see first class all the way schools, but people here just do have the money for it. You can get blood from a stone. And scare tactis dont work.
How about Dick get some business here (other than wallmart hiring unskilled wokers and Carr adding 10 part time jobs. Then the tax base could increase and we could afford more.
Editor: Why don't you just say the financial management letter instead of making it sound like something else? Those recommendations are being addressed and most referred to internal workings in City Hall, such as better staff training and reporting. They had nothing to do with getting money for the school. Ugg, do I have to do all your work for you?
chbpod, How about lets wait on the school for another three years when Brayton and drury are off the roll and do a new public safety facility under the mayors plan of doing it out of the budget and not on the taxpayers, as he said he could do with a one school?
To Pro-Stroker-----the one school (Greylock) will take about 3 years to get into the pipeline at about the same time that the other school bonds are paid off-- thus enabling Greylock to be paid fopr out of the budget--no need for a debt exclusion override---it would probably take about 2-3 years to get ready to do a public safety facility---which could well require a debt exclusion override at that point---and the chances of that override passing are pretty decent since it would be under a DOJ mandate with threat of fines if it were not done---however I would want to see the DOJ (ADA) compliance mandates before I would do anything-----if the City declined to do the school- that money would disappear---that being said---plan for both--take the state money for the school and pay the City's share out of the budget--and think debt exclusion for a public safety facility
Senator Brown toured the police facility last year and agreed it was in deplorable condition- and that didn't take into account ADA--he did say that he would help if he could with Federal funds---I would say anything police- might qualify under Homeland Security--maybe a grant can be procured--that would certainly help
Did someone say that the downtown was safe. OK . Why does tha collage which is less than two blocks away feel they need ARMED SECURITY ??? So much for SAFE. If the area isn't safe for collage students why would anyone put 6 too 10 year olds in that same area ??
The assertion that "they are arming MCLA campus police, therefore the downtown must be unsafe" is rather weak. It may have more reported crime than in the past (or at least more people being charged instead of just sent home), but it is far from unsafe to live or walk here. Live somewhere else for a while and you will understand that North Adams is like Mayberry compared to elsewhere in the country. The there is the "traffic" argument against a school downtown. Again, see "Mayberry" comment above.
The simple statistical fact that a child is most likely to be abused or harmed by a relative, friend or neighbor, seems to be ignored by those who would rather see bogeymen around the corner.
The fact of the matter is that I'd be just as worried (not very) about my kids being harmed in the woods by Sullivan or by Windsor Lake. And who are these children who are walking to school? I suspect that there are no more than 15 or 20. It's really sad to see how stupid and paranoid we have become as a society and more specifically, as a city.
Editor: It's weird. When I was 5, I'd walk to Houghton School, back home to lunch, back to Houghton, and then back home again. And that was crossing Union Street when it had major traffic. But parents have different expectations today - and it's really up to them.
This is getting stupid and I feel the need to pipe in. Your schools suck and are the reason that when I was offered my position at a local college, I ruled out North Adams and purchased in Vermont. They are among the worst in the state.
My students volunteer and come back with horror stories of teachers spending most of their time either on discipline issues or remedial work. There are surely several kids who succeed and many teachers who are dedicated, but why would I send my kids to schools where the odds are so stacked against them?
As for your city not being safe, that is a joke, too. Anybody who has lived in a real city would laugh in your faces.
Maybe your biggest collective problem is your inability to look honestly in the mirror.
Editor:Yes, you do have to do all the work, thats why your the inside reporter, ugg, So tell us how many of the (30)recommendations has the city applyed over the last (18) months that they have had the report? and how about the insurance and pension that the state says we could change and save big bucks on? is that going to be a Zipo too.
OK editor: Ms.Daniels, Ugg, lets take it your way, Ask the Mayor you say, at a committee meeting, Ok when is the next fiance committee meeting, board members say maybe April or May, Chairman sooner, its up to the mayor. I could write a book by then and keep them all night.
Now lets look at the school committee meeting tonight,
Welome to the regulor meeting on the N A School committee meeting. If you have any matter to discuss with the committee, that is included on the agenda, you may do so during the hearing of the visitors.
But nothing on the agenda, on the city website, so one must stay silent then, thats moot only a game to keep the public from coming to the meetings by not stating whats on the agenda, and you say ask the Mayor ! Zipo.
Editor: First, the school committee meeting isn't the appropriate place for asking about City Hall employees; second, pick up the phone. His number is 662-3000. You seem to have plenty of time to post, you must have time to call. Oh, but then you'd have to say who you are ...
BTW, I'm not against doing an update on how City Hall handles finances but isn't at the top of my priority list, which is quite long.
Editor: Just the facts Jack, but thank you for all of your help,I did call and my name and number does come up under caller I.D. was told too busy. call back next month. I guess I am not you and have any pull, " Thats government hard at work", off for another month. but Thanks, I'll try, try again.
We get the money to build one school why not put your brains to work and realize you have a great place to build it tear down the middle school tear down both churches before they fall down nobody will miss them that leaves 2 building that are for sale buy and tear them down you would have a very nice piece of land to build a new school with play grounds. And while your at it tear down the mill on union st and the 3 empty houses that nobody in city hall seems to care that it really looks like crap comeing into the city. But then again they would have to leave city hall to see that.